If subject of an English sentence is a foreign word (eg. name) which is regarded as plural in that foreign language, is it completely incorrect to use plural verb when talking about the thing this word represents?
Example: There is a town called České Budějovice in Czechia, whose name is always regarded as plural in Czech language. In English you would usually say "České Budějovice is a city" but would it be completely wrong saying "České Budějovice are a city"?

  • You might be unaware of our other site English Language Learners which can also be a good source of information on topics like this. Try selecting "Tags" from the menu bar and see if there's one for "plurals", to help narrow down your search. :-) – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Oct 8 '18 at 10:49
  • Yes, it would be completely incorrect. Just ask yourself the reverse question: would it be acceptable to regard České Budějovice as singular in Czech just because it's singular in English? Each language has its own set of rules. When speaking Czech, you don't use the rules of English. Likewise, when speaking English, you don't use the rules of Czech. – RegDwigнt Oct 8 '18 at 13:07

The name of a city is a proper noun that describes a single entity, so the verb is singular in English.

If the name of a city were Wonderful Sights, then you would say that Wonderful Sights is a city.

It doesn't matter if a particular word in the proper noun is plural, it only matters that the thing being described is singular.

Of course, such naming could lead to confusion:

"Did you see Wonderful Sights on your trip?"
"No, everything was pretty mundane."
"So, you didn't visit it?"
"Didn't visit what? You were asking about the sights."
"What do you mean? I was asking about the city."

But, Abbot and Costello–type skits aside, the grammar in this case follows the thing that is named, not the name itself.

  • 1
    Tunbridge Wells is a town in Kent, England. Elmstead Woods is in Greater London. – Michael Harvey Oct 8 '18 at 11:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.